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    Valero Assets on the Block

    Refiner plans sale of more than 300 retail locations.

    SAN ANTONIO -- Valero Energy Corp. announced plans to sell or close 325 or more of its more than 1,400 retail locations, the San Antonio Express-News reported.

    Industry analysts speculated that the move could be in preparation for buying refining and retail assets from Conoco Inc. and Phillips Petroleum Co. as those companies prepare to merge. Valero CEO Bill Greehey told shareholders at Valero's annual meeting earlier this year that the company planned to be well positioned to bid for refineries as major oil companies began to leave the domestic refining market.

    Valero operates convenience store and petroleum marketing locations under the Diamond Shamrock, Valero, Ultramar, Beacon and Total banners. Valero plans to sell 325 or more locations, the report said, while about 500 locations have been identified as "keepers."

    Valero also plans put all stations under the Valero name in California, where it currently operates some Exxon-branded locations, and use the Diamond Shamrock name throughout the rest of the nation.

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